Look for denim jacket outfit ideas? This style guide will give you plenty of options all year-round.
Denim jackets are much more popular now, partly due to Gen Z bringing back more retro styles, but also because of their versatility. They’ve turned into a perfect light or medium layer option, depending on the season. Even if you already own a denim jacket, it might be time to add variety to your collection.
We’re going to cover spring/summer denim jacket styles as well as fall/winter options. So by the end of this read you should be set with everything you need.
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What Makes Denim Jackets so Versatile?
Just like you’d expect from your jean bottoms, denim jackets come in a variety of styles and washes that add to their versatility. Similarly, a couple of varying colors of denim jackets can cover you for many outfit options.
While denim jackets can’t be styled formally, they do have range. We’ll cover it later on, but you can easily go from casual to smart casual with your styling.
Denim Jacket Design
As you can see above, you get just as many color and wash options as jean bottoms. You can get them in every shade from white and light blue to grey/black and most shades of blue in between. There are also color dyed options if you’re looking for something more bold.
You’ll also have selvedge denim jacket styles (that are typically considered premium quality due to the way they’re fabricated) and raw styles that are unwashed prior to first wear.
So, if you’re a denim head or exploring more serious denim, you’re able to find those stiff jackets that you can wear into your perfect fit, fades and all.
Regardless of the type or color you choose, denim jackets maintain a more boxy, workwear inspired style. For the US at least, that’s thanks to Levi Strauss’ introduction of the denim jacket in the 80’s primarily for miners, cowboys, and railroad workers.
Though they’d been around since after World War II in the UK, when we think of denim jackets in the US, we think of this kind of Americana style.
How to Wear Denim Jackets for Men
Now we can go through some outfit ideas so you know how to style denim jackets. We’ll start with spring/summer styles and move into more fall/winter styles to give you maximum range. There will also be a mix of casual and smart casual options, which I’ll be sure to note as we go.
Spring/Summer Denim Jacket Outfit Ideas
We’re starting with warmer weather styles because denim jackets tend to be a perfect lighter outerwear layer for spring days or cooler summer evenings. They’re also a great way to add depth to your outfits during the warmer seasons when you don’t have more layers to pay with.
We’ll focus a majority of our denim jacket styles here. However, you’ll be able to replicate similar outfits for the colder months as well.
#1 Casual Tee/Henley and Chinos
I’m grouping T-shirts and henleys together because they are pretty close in style. The nice part of choosing a henley is that you’ll get some more detail and design underneath the denim jacket.
You don’t have to go for these bold pants, but the great part about a simple outfit like this is that it’ll work with any denim jacket color. If you’re having trouble with chino color, pick ones that contrast to the color of jacket you chose.
#2 Casual Button Down and Chinos
This is another simple, but effective option to pair with your denim jacket. You can choose a patterned or solid color shirt here.
If you do choose a more bold shirt like David did here, the denim jacket actually helps tone the whole outfit down. So it’s a good way to experiment.
You can also wear your shirt tucked or untucked. Tucking the shirt will take it more into a smart casual style.
#3 Denim Jacket and Light Layers
You can consider this one a combo of our first two options. We’re just adding a couple layers under the denim jacket.
The great thing about the outfit here is that there is more depth going from the solid henley, to the striped shirt, to the denim jacket. You can vary the colors of the button down with the tee or henley underneath to do this.
It might not work on the hottest days, but will definitely serve you for cooler evenings on a casual date night.
#4 Band or Graphic Tee
A band or graphic tee looks great with a denim jacket. It plays up the retro style of the jackets but with a modern feel.
If you’re looking for a more Rock n’ Roll feel to it, choose a vintage band tee and a darker denim jacket. Loosely tuck your t-shirt in and wear jean bottoms that match the jacket as well to make the tee stand out.
#5 Double Denim – Matching Shades
It would be a shame to not mention the good old Canadian Tuxedo, which refers to having denim on both the top and bottom of your outfit.
The key to this look is that the shades of denim on both the top and the bottom match really closely. Having one of the two vary just only slightly will throw it all off. The best way to match the shades is to buy the jeans and jacket from the same brand.
#6 Double Denim – Contrasting Shades
The other spin on the Canadian Tuxedo is creating heavy contrast between the top and bottom. This is your chance to mix what’s already in your closet.
Here, the contrast is more impactful. So for Canadian Tuxes either go for a perfect match or defined color contrast.
Because the focus of this outfit is the contrast, keep your t-shirt or base layer more simple and solid to start out.
#7 Triple Denim
The last entry into the Canadian Tuxedo series is the triple denim option. This means that you’re also adding a denim shirt into the mix.
The same rules as #5 and #6 still apply: either match it all or play with heavy contrast. It works here because Parker played with matching on the base layers and contrast on the jacket.
This is also a pretty bold style move and might not be for everyone, but is definitely something to try out if you’re looking for more denim jacket styling options.
#8 Button Up and Trousers
Moving into a more smart casual style, pairing your denim jacket with an oxford or more formal button up and tailored trousers will elevate it.
The jacket David is wearing here is a great substitution for a blazer or sport coat. It’s a little unexpected, which is always good. The more streamline fit of the smart pieces look good against the looser fit of the jacket.
#9 Tie & Smart Accessories
The next way to make the last outfit even smarter is by adding a tie and other smart accessories like a tie clip or even pocket square.
The jacket here frames the tie up nicely, just like a sport coat or blazer would, but gives a good rugged element to the overall smart style look. The floral tie and yellow shirt give a good pop of color against the jacket.
This is about as formal as you’ll get since a denim jacket can’t actually replace your suit jacket.
#10 Bold Denim Jacket
Like I said before, spring/summer is always a good time to try a bolder and brighter print. That goes for your jacket too.
I like that David chose a tie dye style jacket and paired it with complimentary colors. It’s a bold jacket but it works for the warmer seasons.
#11 Oversized Denim Jacket
This is a good chance to talk about the fit of your denim jacket. You have the option to go true to size or size up here. Sizing up, like you see below, not only gives you a more retro inspired look, but also leaves room for more layers.
Choosing an oversized denim jacket also allows you to keep wearing it through fall with more layers underneath.
Fall/Winter Denim Jacket Outfit Ideas
Talking about oversized denim jackets is a good way to lead into styling them for fall and winter. Basically what you’ll see here is added layers and some different styles of denim jackets.
You can take most of the outfits from the spring/summer ideas and make them work for colder months with just an added mid layer or two and a change in footwear. So think of some of the options here as add-ons.
Let’s check out a few colder weather denim jacket outfit ideas:
#1 Denim Jacket and a Sweater
Let’s start out easy. Instead of a tee, try a sweater. It’s the same idea as just pairing it with a tee, but you introduce some different knit texture.
Depending on how chunky that knit is, this is where you may need to introduce a denim jacket in a larger size to your wardrobe.
#2 Sweaters with Layers
A crewneck or V-neck sweater with a collared shirt is a classic look and fits into most men’s wardrobes. And adding a denim jacket to that works just as well.
I like that the collar adds a brighter, contrasting color to the denim jacket. That draws your eye towards the detail.
#3 Cardigan/Jacket and Layers
For this one, we’re taking option 3 from spring/summer and adding a cardigan or jacket mid layer. This creates some depth and is good for colder seasons.
You can see here he went with a field jacket here but you can do this with a cardigan of varying thickness. Pay attention to the thickness of your mid layer in comparison to your denim jacket. You want to avoid feeling constricted once your layers are on.
We’ve been talking about depth a lot. Varying texture and colors between the layers, even slightly, adds more of it to your outfit.
When I say depth I mean that the layers are defined and the outfit feels less one-dimensional by not looking all the same. Check out more tips and ideas on layering in How to Wear Layers During Fall and Winter.
Another classic look that is perfect for when you want to feel stylish without too much effort. A denim jacket has the power to make most pieces (and the wearer) feel more stylish.
For a more comfortable fit, make sure the hood is flipped out over the collar of your jacket. I also like how David cuffed the sleeves to expose more of the hoodie.
Feel free to also experiment with different hoodie colors. That’s the great thing about most denim jackets, they become a neutral piece and good canvas for your other layers.
#5 Sherpa Lined Denim Jacket and Flannel
If you’re looking for a denim jacket that is more dedicated to fall/winter, a sherpa lined denim jacket is a great option. You can recreate many of the outfits here with the jacket on its own or go for a classic look with a flannel shirt.
The nice thing is that you can buy more true to size and skip the added mid layers. You’ll also notice that the sherpa layer also gives the jacket more of a trucker/workwear style. It’s a nice nod to vintage and Americana style we talked about earlier.
#6 Topcoat and Jacket Layering
Your denim jacket doesn’t always have to be the final outer layer. Pair it with a topcoat or heavier jacket.
The topcoat adds a great smart casual and modern touch. I recommend a camel topcoat here to get that contrast and help define these two final layers.
Note About Fall/Winter Smart Casual
I know we mainly focused on casual layers for fall/winter season styles, but you can easily take the smart casual styles from spring/summer and add a sweater or cardigan layer with the trousers or tie and accessories or choose the sherpa jacket.
Denim Jackets and Footwear
The other great thing about pairing denim jackets with shoe choices is that your options are pretty open. Just keep your selection season appropriate.
For spring/summer, rotate through low top and high top
All of these shoe options will work with the styles shown here.
Denim Jacket Colors
One last note on denim jacket outfit ideas: when it comes to choosing a color, start with a medium or dark blue. Just like jean bottoms, that will give you the most versatility all year long. If you can, try a lighter blue for the warmer seasons and a medium or dark for the colder seasons.
When it comes to the outfit ideas shared here, you can rotate a variety of denim jacket colors. The principles remain the same with fit, color contrast, and styling. Don’t hesitate to try a black denim jacket even if you saw an outfit idea with a blue jacket above.
How Would You Style a Denim Jacket?
When it comes to denim jackets, you’ve got plenty of outfit options. I hope this guide gave you some new ideas for styling your denim jacket.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below!